Every so often, I find myself having the following conversation with another bookish human.
Bookish human: Hey! You read. Have you read such-and-such-book?
Me: Not yet.
Bookish human: Dude. Seriously?
Bookish human: It’s so good! You’d LOVE it!
Me: I’m sure! I’ll add it to my list.
Bookish human: You HAVE TO READ IT! Everybody in my book club loved it, it hit the New York Times bestseller list in the first hour it was out, they’re even making a movie of it. IT’S THE BEST BOOK EVER WRITTEN IN THE WHOLE ENTIRE HISTORY OF THE WORLD AND YOU MUST READ IT AND LOVE IT TOO!
Me: Okay…so…um…I’ve got to go do….stuff. Thanks!
Typically after a convo like that I do one of three things. I might buy the book. I probably add it to my Goodreads to-read list. But more than anything else, I usually put off reading the book.
Why would I do that?
Because I fear an overhyped book.
I know. I KNOW! It’s completely irrational. Like my fear of sharks somehow making their way into Lake Michigan just so they can finally eat me.
Still, I get nervous whenever someone oversells a book. Why? Because I’m worried that I won’t like it. I fear that I’ll be disappointed. More than that, I’m afraid that if I don’t like it, my friend will be let down.
And so I put off reading the book. Sometimes indefinitely. If I’ve purchased it, it gets lost on my shelf and collects dust. Forgotten.
That is until — perhaps years later — I rummage through my book collection for something to read. I stumble upon the book, pull it off the shelf. I feel the cover, flip through the pages, consider the weight of it.
“Why not?” I whisper to myself, deciding to give the book a try.
I begin to read, determined to give it a fair shake despite my reservations. Sometimes I realize that I was right. That the book doesn’t quite live up to the hype. Sometimes I truly am disappointed. I might give up on the book, but I’m more likely to read it all the way to the end, hoping for a satisfying close.
When a book doesn’t hold up to the rave reviews I feel let down.
But then there are times when I read an overhyped book and find myself immediately engaged with the story, right away enamored of the characters, impressed with the narrative. Sometimes I find that the excitement was earned. That what I hold in my hand is a treasure.
And that, my friends, is worth its weight in hype.